Category Archives: News

Louisiana Approves First Fantasy Sports License

On Thursday, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board approved DraftKings as the first fantasy sports betting company to do business in the state. The license approval has been a long time coming as the Bayou State has been working on introducing sports betting for years. DraftKings officials were ecstatic about the decision, working to go live within 24 hours of the board’s unanimous approval. The launch is a step in the right direction for sports betting in the state, and is a sign of things to come, as other companies prepare to have their licenses approved. The launch of fantasy sports is a timely one, as Louisiana also plans to introduce other forms of sports betting later this year.

Fantasy Sports with Draft Kings

Now that DrafKings’ license has been approved, the company is set to launch their renowned fantasy sports products for residents within the state. Fantasy sports differs from traditional sports betting and online sportsbooks. Instead of placing wagers on moneylines, spreads, futures, or prop bets, fans will access the DraftKings app or website to create their own rosters and compete against other players in a variety of sports. The most popular example of fantasy sports betting would be fantasy football with the National Football League. With DraftKings fantasy sports, residents of Louisiana will be able to play over an entire season, or a single day of games in the sport of their choice, including baseball, basketball, football, or even a golf tournament.

The introduction of fantasy sports betting is the first step for the Bayou State into the world of sports betting. As DraftKings becomes the first to receive a license to operate, a number of competitors are waiting to leave their mark on the gaming landscape. While Louisiana has welcomed a variety of gaming options for years, the introduction of fantasy sports and sports betting marks a significant shift that will inevitably have an impact on the state’s gaming revenue.

The Path to Fantasy Sports Betting

Louisiana is currently home to 13 riverboat casinos, which have provided an enticing gaming option for residents, as well as a tourist attraction for people throughout the United States. However, the state has recently felt the pressure to expand their gaming options, as southern states like Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama have legalized or proposed sports betting legislation. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to overturn the ban on sports betting, the industry has gained significant traction throughout the country, generating millions in revenue. Louisiana voters were quick to approve fantasy sports betting, as voters in 47 parishes voted to approve fantasy sports betting in November 2018, but despite the early vote to approve sports betting it has taken years for tangible sports betting to materialize.

Now that fantasy sports are set to launch, officials are setting lofty revenue goals. Gaming experts have shared that the industry could produce as much as $15.5 million in net revenue in the first year of operations. Out of that figure, nearly $1.3 million in tax revenue would go directly to the state. In the coming years, it is expected that Louisiana will continue to expand sports betting in the state. With this expansion, officials estimate that the market could fall between $2 billion and $2.6 billion over the next decade.

Looking to Expand Beyond Fantasy Sports

DraftKings isn’t the only industry leader set to launch fantasy sports in Louisiana. Earlier this year FanDuel submitted an application to the gaming board to begin operating fantasy sports options of their own, hoping to go live before the upcoming NFL season. Daily fantasy sports are just the first step for sports betting in Louisiana, as both DraftKings and FanDuel hope that their platforms will help build a strong customer base before other forms sports betting begins later this year.

Louisiana has yet to launch any brick-and-mortar or online sportsbooks within the state, but the approval of DraftKings fantasy sports license could suggest that a physical or online presence for the industry-leading sports betting company could become a reality in the future. The company has already branded sportsbook wagering at 13 casinos throughout the United States, so the transition to a physical presence in Louisiana would be a smooth one. DraftKings also has a partnership with Casino Queen, who has already announced their intentions to buy the Belle of Baton Rouge and Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge, opening the door for a DraftKings sportsbook once that deal is done. With such a strong foothold in the industry, as well as the state, it is likely that online and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will successfully launch later this year.

Wagr Makes Sports Betting a Social Experience

A new sports betting app is looking to flip the world of sports betting on its head by making it a social experience and introducing sports wagering to an entirely new fanbase. Since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting in the United States in 2018, residents have found a plethora of sports betting options. Up to this point, those interested in sports betting have placed wagers at traditional brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, as well as online and mobile sportsbooks. All of these wagers have been placed against the “house” or the casino responsible for operating the sportsbook, with little to no interaction between those wagering; Wagr is looking to change this model. The new sports betting app has set out to make sports betting an inviting experience, where users can place wagers with and against their friends. Recently the app has recently received the funding to make this dream of coupling sports betting and social interaction a reality.

About Wagr

Wagr is a gambling app that was founded in April 2020. The app is unique in that it allows fans to bet on sports with friends, rather than betting against the house. The goal is to revolutionize sports betting in an attempt to tap into an entirely new market of customers who may feel intimidated by the traditional sports betting experience. The app will also give users the opportunity to engage in new and unique sports betting opportunities that allow them to place wagers against their friends, while talking trash and engaging in friendly banter across their app.

Mario Malave sat down and spoke with Yahoo Finance about the revolutionary app, and the company’s plans to change the way people place wagers on their favorite sports. Malave shares that there are three components of traditional sportsbooks that Wagr hopes to change. First and foremost, traditional sportsbooks pit users against the house, meaning the house only makes money when the user loses it. Secondly, these sportsbooks are not intuitive enough to provide an inclusive experience to new users. Finally, these sportsbooks have primarily been marketed exclusively to men. Wagr has set out to address these challenges in a way that no other sportsbook has.

Since the legalization of sports betting in the United States, an entire culture of sports betting has emerged. Professional sports throughout the country are flooded with sports betting advertisements and promotions, and professional sports teams and venues have struck partnerships with prominent sportsbooks and apps. This culture has created a buzz of social conversation, and Wagr hopes to provide a more tangible home for that conversation. In recent months, the app has received significant funding to make these dreams a reality.

Funding the Change

Reddit Inc. co-founder and founder of Seven Seven Six Alexis Ohanian is heading a $4 million seed-funding round for Wagr. Ohanian shared his own belief in the app’s future, saying it provides a platform for the culture that has already been established throughout the country. Ohanian also spoke with Yahoo Finance, sharing his interest in sports betting. “I don’t consider myself a gambler but my friends and I really enjoy just thew thrill of talking trash and backing it up with a few bucks.”

Wagr’s goal is to take this exact experience and market it to casual gamblers throughout the country, and they could not have found a better partner than Ohanian, whose Reddit platform thrives under peer-to-peer interactions. Ohanian shared his belief that Wagr is a reflection a larger social phenomenon that has brought about the intersection of community and capital, or social media and finance. The proof of this phenomenon is most evident in the influence that Reddit has had on “meme stocks,” causing seemingly irrelevant stocks like GameStop rise to unprecedented numbers through buzz created through social interaction on the site. However, Ohanian and Wagr believe that this new phenomenon is much more than a meme, and that the next decade could bring about an even greater overlapping of finance, including sports betting, and community engagement.

In addition to funding from Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, Wagr is also backed by Greycroft, Pear Ventures, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, and former chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Inc. Brad Martin.

Betting on Wagr’s App

Malave shared that the goal for Wagr is to start slow, with simple wagering options and steadily build the platform based on user interactions. Initially, Wagr will only offer point-spread bets. Users who are looking for an entry point to the world of sports betting will not be bombarded with an overwhelming number of wagering options that are often found on other apps or sportsbooks. The goal is to make it simple to pick a team and the amount you want to wager, and then place your bet.

Wagr will offer lines for a number of major sports and plans to introduce prop bets or money-line wagers in the future. The reason that the app is focusing on points-spread first, according to Malave, is because they lend themselves to the peer-to-peer model that the app aims to create. With the app, users will place a wager on one point spread or the other, often with a friend, family member, or another person in their social circle, setting the stage for the ensuing banter. If a user is unable to find a friend who is interested in taking a bet, then the app will match them with someone in their state who does.

Wagr plans to have users pay a platform fee for using the app, giving them access to an app that offers the odds, payments, and platform for trash-talking. The app’s fees will be comparable with traditional sportsbook or casino fees. The app currently has pending license applications to operate in Tennessee and Virginia.

BetMGM Launches Sportsbook at Nationals Park

BetMGM announced last Thursday that it will officially be launching its mobile sports betting app at Nationals Park, as part of its partnership with Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals. The announcement makes BetMGM the official exclusive sportsbook of Nationals Park and is part of a larger deal that will also bring a retail sportsbook to the ballpark later this year. The launch of the mobile sportsbook marks a significant milestone for the Nationals, but also the MLB, who has had a complicated past with sports betting.

Details About the App and Sportsbook

BetMGM’s mobile sportsbook is officially available for download for both iOS and Android devices in Washington, D.C. However, the app is unique in that it can only be accessed within range of Nationals Park. Due to local gambling laws, those interested in placing wagers on the BetMGM app must do so within a two-block radius of the ballpark. That being said, the BetMGM app and sportsbook will integrate with MGM Resorts’ M life Rewards program, giving fans the opportunity to redeem gameplay for rewards at MGM Resorts properties throughout the country. Both the Washington Nationals and BetMGM hope to use the app to revolutionize the fan experience, giving them access to sports betting lines that make them feel like they are part of the action.

Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM, has shared that the new partnership is part of the company’s plan to continue expanding within the region, building on the success they have found at their new Virginia locations. Both BetMGM and the Washington Nationals feel that the launching of the new sportsbook is a monumental moment for innovating the fan-experience. Alan Gottlieb, Chief Operating Officer of Lerner Sports Group, praised BetMGM for giving fans a mobile app that will allow them to directly interact with what’s happening out on the diamond, and went on to express that the retail sportsbook will provide fans in the community with “a first-class gathering place to celebrate their passion for sports.”

Continuing the New Trend for Professional Sports

Later this year, a team merchandise store will be converted into the retail sportsbook location that will be open seven days a week, year-round. The sportsbook will be connected to the stadium with a street entrance, but fans at the game will not be able to enter the sportsbook from inside the stadium. Per MLB rules, the retail location may not be accessible from within the stadium. The rule is a lingering reminder of the league’s previous stance against sports betting, but that stance may change even more in the coming years.

BetMGM’s sportsbook at Nationals Park is the second sportsbook to open at a professional sports venue in the District this year. In late May, the Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, opened their William Hill sportsbook. At the time, it was the first of its kind in Washington D.C., but now the Washington Nationals are getting in on the action. Illinois has also approved legislation that will allow for sportsbooks to become operational within professional sports venues, and Wrigley Field in Chicago has partnered with industry leader DraftKings to launch a sportsbook of their own. The increased interest in the cross-over between sports and gambling is relatively unchartered territory and marks a significant shift that indicates the wider social acceptance of sports betting in the United States since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to allow states to create legislation allowing sports betting.

Professional sports in the United States have traditionally shunned the idea of this cross-over, fearing that the mingling to sports and sports betting could lead to infamous issues like the controversy that surrounded Pete Rose, after he was involved in a betting scandal that impacted his career in the MLB. Now the league is trying to balance the lure of sports betting revenue, while maintaining the integrity of the game and avoiding turning away fans and families who may have no interest in gambling.

Representatives for the Nationals and the MLB are now toeing that line with the introduction of sports betting into Nationals Park. Their ability to maintain the balance could have larger implications for the future of sports betting and professional sports venues throughout the country.

UK-Based Smarkets Pushing for Expansion in US

Smarkets, a London sports betting startup, is hoping to start a major expansion into the United States after receiving a recent boost from a US investment firm. Smarkets was founded in London in 2008 and has operated primarily in the United Kingdom since then. The company offers a unique betting exchange but has most recently launched more traditional sportsbooks, which have become increasingly popular in the United States since the Supreme Court lifted the sports betting ban in 2018. Now Smarkets is looking to launch some of their latest products in the US, adding their name to the long list of sportsbooks in the country.

An Injection of New Funds

The foray into the US market has been inspired by a major investment from US-based Susquehanna Investment Group. SIG is a major global quantitative trading firm, and their Susquehanna Growth Equity investment fund is responsible for the latest investment in Smarkets. Scott Feldman, managing director at Susquehanna Growth Equity, shared that the investment was inspired by Smarkets’ focus on new technologies. The exact terms of the deal have not been revealed, but it marks the first time Smarkets has raised money outside of the company since 2013.

Smarkets has been profitable since 2014, and the latest investment shows their intent to increase their profitability in the coming years. It’s safe to assume that the terms of the latest investment are quite substantial, resulting in the company’s position to extend themselves beyond the UK for the first time. Jason Trost, Smarkets founder and CEO, cited the fact that the company owns their own technology as a huge advantage over potential competitors in the US.

A New Competitor

In the UK, Smarkets boasts more than 50,000 monthly active users. In the past year, the company handled more than $5.3 billion in bets on its platform. Their betting exchange allows users to wager against each other in a variety of markets, from sports like soccer and horse racing, to things as unique as politics and current affairs. Most recently, the company launched a more traditional mass market sportsbook, SBK.

The sports betting industry has been growing exponentially since the ban was lifted in 2018. Since sports betting became legal, more than half of the states have legalized some form of sports betting, attracting the attention of big names who are looking to generate millions in revenue. What’s more, the industry shows no sign of slowing down. Recently, professional sports teams and leagues have even begun making deals with major sports betting companies like FanDuel and DraftKings. Such a competitive industry may seem difficult to break into, but Smarkets have the advantage of owning the technology that their sportsbooks operate under, while other big-name competitors may not.

A Background in Finance, a Future Investment

Popular sportsbooks like DraftKings have made a serious effort to gain ownership over the technology that makes their applications tick. Overtime, DraftKings did successfully acquire its tech provider, SBTech, but Smarkets is unique in that they are responsible for both the sportsbooks they operate and the technology they operate with. While other sportsbooks may work to acquire the companies that offer this tech, much like DraftKings did, Trost has shared that his intention is to remain unique in the fact that Smarkets will not be striking any partnership deals with major sportsbook operators.

Trost previously worked as a stock trader before founding Smarkets in 2008 and believes that his background has given him the upper hand in identifying the similarities between the betting and financial markets. Evidence of this is apparent to anyone who has explored Smarkets sportsbooks, which offer a unique interface that more closely resembles a financial website or application rather than a traditional sportsbook. Trost believes that in 10 years the company’s expansion in the US will be part of a larger financial technology plan, that will be successful for many years to come.

Ohio Sports Betting Bill Introduced by Senate Republicans

On Thursday, Ohio senators proposed a sports betting bill that could bring a wave of sports betting options to Ohio residents in the near future. Ohio Senator Kirk Schuring introduced Senate Bill 176 during a press conference on Thursday afternoon, outlining the details of the bill which has taken months of planning and preparation. The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming worked tirelessly to create what many state Senators believe is a comprehensive plan for rolling out sports betting in the Buckeye State. Supporters of the bill are now hopeful that legislation could be passed as early as this summer.

Details of the Bill

The proposed bill offers 40 three-year sports betting licenses; 20 of these licenses would be offered to applicants who have an existing brick-and-mortar gambling operation, such as the 11 casinos and racinos already operating in the state. These existing locations would be given permission to use their licenses to partner with popular online and mobile application sports betting companies like DraftKings or FanDuel. The proposed legislation would limit any given entity to five online licenses, to prevent them from gaining too much control over the industry within the state.

The remaining 20 licenses would be reserved for in-person sports betting operations. These licenses are called type B licenses and could be awarded to casinos, sports bars, and other locations. Professional sports teams in the state would also be allowed to apply for a license, giving them the opportunity to open live sportsbooks within their stadiums and professional venues. Other states have made similar decisions, opening the door for professional teams throughout the country to begin offering sports betting at live events.

The Senate’s proposal calls for the Ohio Casino Control Commission to regulate sports betting in the state. The Commission would also be responsible for imposing a 10% tax on all sports betting, directing the revenue toward both public and private schools, as well as gambling addiction services. The 40 available sports betting licenses come with a $1 million a-piece price tag, and the revenue generated from these would be directed to the same avenues as the tax revenue.

Pressure from Neighboring States

Since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting in 2018, more than half the states in the country have legalized or proposed sports betting legislation. In fact, every state neighboring Ohio, with the exception of Kentucky, has already legalized some form of sports betting. This has left many officials in the state of Ohio feeling as if they’re missing out on the action. Now that a proposal has materialized, it seems as though Ohio has taken inspiration from other states to help offer legal sports betting.

Schuring, who is responsible for crafting much of the Senate’s proposal, suggested that the bill is needed to prevent illegal sports betting from growing within the state. As more and more states legalize sports betting, states like Ohio become more susceptible to illegal gambling practices. Schuring feels that a well-structured proposal like his addresses these concerns and gives lawmakers the opportunity to take immediate action to help stop illegal practices, while also generating revenue for important programs in the state.

Time is of the Essence

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has already publicly shared that legal sports betting in the state is “inevitable.” DeWine has also acknowledged that Ohio does face a challenge when dealing with illegal sports gambling, meaning that sports betting legislation could be coming sooner rather than later. After reviewing Schuring’s proposal, House Speaker Bob Cupp shared that the goal is to make a decision about the bill before they recess on June 1st.

Before the decision is made, however, there are still a number of concerns that need to be addressed. Since the proposal was announced, 14 of the state’s public universities have asked lawmakers to exempt collegiate sports from gambling in the state. If officials are able to come to a consensus, sports betting could be available by Jan. 1st. There is the chance that the passing of sports betting legislation could face a legal challenge for violating the Ohio Constitution’s ban on gambling. However, given the support and the momentum the bill has gained, it seems that some form of sports betting will be arriving in Ohio in the very near future.

NFL Partners with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel

The National Football League has officially announced a new sportsbook partnership with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel. The partnership is both groundbreaking and unsurprising, as the NFL has previously taken a strong stance against sport betting but has recently adjusted their stance as many professional sports teams have come to embrace the budding industry. Now, as sports teams, stadiums, and professional leagues throughout the country strike lucrative sports betting deals, the NFL is looking to use a new deal to increase fan engagement and add to their existing revenue streams.

A New Perspective on an Age-Old Debate

Professional and collegiate sports leagues have been at odds with sports betting for decades. Many league officials, athletes and fans throughout the country have questioned whether or not gambling could damage the integrity of the games that they have grown to love. The NCAA, NBA, NHL, MLB, and the NFL even went as far to engage in a six-year battle with the state of New Jersey over sports betting legalization. The result of that debate was the decision in 2018 from the Supreme Court, which lifted the ban on sports betting, allowing states to begin planning their own legislation for legal sportsbooks.

Since the decision from the Supreme Court, professional sports leagues have skillfully repositioned themselves to not only accept legal sports betting but also embrace it. Throughout the country, professional sports teams are striking new deals with legal sports books; many electing to engage in lucrative partnerships that allow for sports betting at their very own venues. NFL chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL partnerships Renie Anderson announced this month that the NFL is looking forward to working closely with Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel to provide fans with a new way to engage with the sports that they love.

A New Consumer Experience

Details of the financials surrounding the new deal have not been made public, but sources have suggested that the new 5-year deal could be worth nearly $1 billion. That $1 billion gives Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel the right to use NFL intellectual property and use its trademarks for betting promotions. This partnership is not only monumental in its price tag, but also the impact it could have on sports betting and the league itself.

The new deal between the popular sportsbooks and the NFL will bring a number of immediate changes to the upcoming NFL season. The betting companies will now have access to a content-sharing model with the league. Through this model, the betting sites will be able to use NFL highlights and Next Gen Stats data to help set betting lines and help push promotional content on their sites and betting apps. The NFL confirmed that Caesars will keep it league sponsorship, while DraftKings and FanDuel could get more brand exposure on league media properties like the NFL Network and NFL RedZone channels. Fans could even see point spreads integrated into coverage, with additional evidence of sports betting influence throughout each broadcast.

The New Partnership

Anderson cited that the new deal will not only prove to be lucrative, but it will also evolve and change to amplify consumer engagement. The league recently agreed to media rights for the upcoming season as well, partnering with NBCUniversal, Fox Sports, ESPN, CBS Sports and Amazon for an 11-year deal worth over $100 billion. The NFL ultimately hopes that the new sportsbook deal will provide the already football-obsessed fanbase with a new take on the game they love. Under the deal, the NFL has exit options at the end of the third and fourth years.

Sources close to the deal said that the revenue structure will not be tied to the outcome of bets on league games, and that the deal resembles a more traditional sponsorship partnership. The announcement has already had a big impact on DraftKings, whose stock rose 4% on Thursday. As the season approaches, the NFL may continue to use the deal to make changes to integrate sports betting into the fold of day-to-day life in the NFL, as fans continue to help the sports betting industry grow throughout the country.

Wyoming Lawmakers Move Forward with Sports Betting

A bill that could bring legal sports betting to the state of Wyoming is making its way through the House and Senate and many believe Wyoming residents to place wagers within the year. On Monday, Wyoming HB 133 passed in the Senate after receiving a 24-5-1 approval vote. The Cowboy State is typically known for its rural landscape, scenic views, and breathtaking national parks. Now Wyoming, like many other states in the country, is looking to capitalize on the budding sports betting industry.

A Bump in the Road

Wyoming’s sports betting bill has already faced a number of challenges, but it has made some significant progress after a relatively rocky start. Earlier this month, the House voted against the bill, leaving many doubtful about sports betting’s immediate future in the state. However, Rep. Landon Brown, a bill co-sponsor, called for a reconsideration vote and promised to answer any lingering questions that officials had about the proposal. Initial concerns about the bill were related to whether or not the state’s tribes would have the opportunity to voice their opinion about introducing a new form of gambling revenue into the fold. In a somewhat miraculous turnaround, the reconsideration vote passed by a count of 32-28, as representatives vowed to give tribes a voice in the new legislation.

After passing in the House, the bill progressed seemingly unopposed through the Senate Appropriations Committee and also the full Senate. A few minor amendments were made to address some concerns surrounding gaming license applicants, like those that were brought to the table regarding the state’s tribes contributing to the new legislation. Now that the bill has passed in the Senate, it will face two more votes before being forwarded to Gov. Mark Gordon. Many believe that in the coming months lawmakers will be able to iron out the rules and guidelines for legal sports betting, with residents placing wagers before the new year.

Details of the Bill

Wyoming’s sports betting bill is unique in that it exclusively offers online sports gambling. Under the bill, anyone over the age of 18 would be able to place wagers on their favorite sports teams. The Wyoming Gaming Commission will be responsible for regulating all online sports betting, which could launch as early as July 1. In a recent committee hearing, Wyoming Gaming Commission Director Charles Moore stated that a more realistic launch date would be September 1.

Bettors in the state could have access to a minimum of five sportsbook operators. In order to be considered for a license to operate in Wyoming, applicants must have active sportsbooks in at least three other states. To operate, sportsbooks must pay a $100,000 new permit fee, with a $50,000 renewal fee. All sports betting revenue would be taxed at a rate of 10%, and the revenue generated would go toward the state’s general fund and county health programs. Early estimates from the Gaming Commission suggest that the sports betting market in the state could bring in nearly $450 million annually.

Existing Gambling Laws

Those opposed to the bill argue that the introduction of sports betting could lead to significant gambling addiction in harm, while others believe the pros outweigh the cons. Sen. Jeff Wasserburger, R-Gillette was quoted in the Star Tribune suggesting that the introduction of a legal sports betting market could help mitigate issues surrounding the black market of sports betting. Others noted that the bill does more than enough to help address gambling addiction, by directing revenue toward gambling addiction programs.

As states throughout the country continue to roll out sports betting legislation, Wyoming residents may be turning elsewhere to place wagers on their favorite sporting events. Neighboring states, including Colorado and Montana, have already embraced sports betting, causing residents from Wyoming to cross state lines to place wagers. Many lawmakers in Wyoming view this as revenue waiting to be had and are looking to capitalize with this new bill.

Wyoming is already home to a number of legal gambling activities, including blackjack and poker rooms, as well as racetracks and pari-mutuel wagering. In the near future, Wyoming lawmakers hope to add online sports betting to that list.

Multiple Sports Betting Bills Move Through Arizona House and Senate

Sports and gambling enthusiasts in Arizona have a reason to be hopeful, as two separate bills for sports betting legislation are now moving through both the House and Senate. Arizona is one of many states working to pass new sports betting legislation, as the United States continues to welcome what has become a booming industry, after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting in 2018. In Arizona, this legislation presents a unique challenge, as it needs to overcome a number of hurdles associated with the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts established in 2002. Despite these hurdles, many believe the opportunity to place wagers at Atlanta Braves’ Chase Field or at the Phoenix Suns’ Suns Arena could become a reality in the very near future.

The Tribal-State Gaming Compacts

Arizona has the most Native American land in the United States. This land makes up about 27% of the land in the state, a total of more than 20 million acres. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), a federal law, gives tribes in the state the opportunity to operate casinos on these lands. The law permits gambling on Indian reservations through compacts established between the tribes and the state. There are 16 tribes in the state, and they are responsible for operating 22 casinos. All gaming revenue is required to be used for tribal governmental and charitable ventures only. Now lawmakers are weighing options for introducing sports betting into the fold.

Gambling in the state of Arizona has been limited to tribal casinos, horse and dog racing, and the official state lottery. Gambling is regulated by the state and is illegal at locations that have not been designated by the state. The Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts of 2002 established rules for tribes to operate casinos on tribal lands. At the time, sports betting was prohibited throughout the state, but much has changed since then.

Two Bills with a Common Goal

The two major bills that are moving through the House and Senate are HB 2772 and SB 1797. The bills both propose event wagering and online sports betting, with up to 10 tribes and 10 professional teams licensed to provide online betting platforms. Both of these bills would open the door for online sports betting options like FanDuel or Draft Kings, and they would give fans the opportunity to place wagers at major professional sporting events. There are currently eight professional sports teams in Arizona, including franchises in the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.

The proposed legislation is similar to the many other plans that states across the country have rolled out, as the sports betting industry continues to grow. For example, the Washington Nationals recently announced their plans to open the first sportsbook in an MLB stadium. Many believe that these are the first steps toward a nationwide shift in the way Americans view sports betting, opening the door for many to follow the lead.

Challenges on the Path Ahead

There is still some speculation surrounding the number of licenses these bills could issue. The most confusing point of contention is that the bills allow for 10 licenses for professional teams, when there are only 8 professional teams in the state. On the other hand, the proposed legislation would only allow 10 licenses for the 16 tribes within the state. While both bills are progressing, through the House and Senate, they have faced their fair share of challenges and even more lie ahead.

HB 2772 was introduced by Rep. Jeff Weninger (R.) of LD 17 Chandler, Sun Lakes, and Gilbert. Weninger believes that this bill will do wonders to modernize gaming in the state and it will do so with the support of Gov. Doug Ducey. SB 1797 was already pulled and added as an amendment to a previous horse racing bill. After passing on a 5-4 party line vote, it moves to another vote on March 10. The current bill, which is now 1794, finds itself up against an old foe, in the form of the 2002 gaming compact between the tribes and the state. Many feel that the compact would have to be renegotiated in order for this bill to pass.

It is too early to tell whether or not either of these bills will be passed, but so far HB 2772 has gained the most traction. Once approved by the House, this bill would then go to the Senate for a vote. At the earliest, residents of Arizona could see sports betting in 2022. At this time, complications surrounding tribal gaming compacts seem to be the biggest threat to the passing of either bill. As it stands, the tribes pay roughly 8% of their casino revenue to the state. If the sports gambling bills pass, that number would decrease. The month of March will reveal whether or not either bill has the legs to move forward.

Washington Football Team Lands Sports Betting Deal with FanDuel

On Wednesday, January 20, the Virginia Lottery issued a sports betting permit to the Washington Football team, making them the first franchise in the National Football League to receive a sports betting license. Thanks to its partnership with FanDuel, the Washington Football Team was able to launch a mobile sportsbook in the Commonwealth on Thursday, just in time for bettors to get in on the AFC and NFC championship games on Sunday. As it stands, the sportsbook is launching exclusively online, as the possibility of future retail sportsbooks is still being discussed.

The Evolving Stance on Sports Betting

The past five years has brought an ever-evolving stance on sports betting throughout the United States. The Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to lift the ban on sports betting in the United States has led to a wave of sports betting legislation across the country. The most-recent example of this is Virginia’s first ever sportsbook is the first to ever partner with and NFL team. The partnership offers another dimension to the growing sports betting industry in the country, as the league, who once stood in opposition to the idea of sports betting, is now welcoming partnerships like FanDuel and the Washington Football Team.

The financial details of the partnership are not yet clear. Per the NFL’s policy, NFL franchises cannot directly participate or provide sports betting. That being said, in states where sports betting is legal, teams can partner with existing sportsbooks who have a license to operate. Sports betting in Virginia was made legal after Gov. Ralph Northam signed it into law in July 2020. Six months later, the first sportsbook has officially gone live, just weeks before Super Bowl LV.

The Virginia Lottery expects to launch additional sportsbooks before the big game, but for now residents will have to wait. Large sports betting companies such as MGM, Draft Kings, and Barstool Sports have all applied for licenses in the state, but none have been approved.

A Change of Scenery

The Washington Football Team plays at FedEx Field in Maryland; however, its team headquarters and practice facility are located in neighboring Virginia. As it stands, the team pays nearly $14 million in taxes each year, and is rumored to be considering locations for a new stadium. With the new partnership, Virginia could offer the perfect location for the next stadium.

Virginia’s interest in building the new stadium has been no secret. In fact, the sportsbook is a result of the state’s sports betting legislation, which give preferential treatment to the team so that FanDuel can be the first sportsbook in the state. For now, FanDuel will display signage at FedEx Field while displaying the Washington Football Team’s logo across their mobile sportsbook.

Potential for Similar Partnerships

While the Washington Football Team and FanDuel are the first sportsbook and franchise partnership in the NFL, they certainly won’t be the last. Illinois and the District of Columbia have already taken steps toward allowing other professional teams and stadiums to receive sports betting licenses. Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, already has a retail sportsbook. Nationals Park is the next professional sports venue in Washington D.C. expected to add some type of sports betting. Elsewhere, the Chicago Cubs hope to add a sportsbook of their own.

Since the lift on the ban of sports betting in the United States, nearly every state has passed legislation or are at least considering legislation for regulated betting. Idaho, Utah, and Wisconsin are the only states that have not welcomed the idea of sports betting. Such a trend suggests that additional partnerships between professional sports franchises and big-name sports betting companies will become commonplace in the near future.

Sports Betting To Finally Launch In Michigan

Residents of Michigan may be noticing an increase in sports betting advertisements from companies such as FanDuel, DraftKings, and other top sports betting platforms. Offers such as free sign up bonuses mark the introduction of legal sports gambling to the state.

Next Steps

A year ago, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to legalize sports gambling and online betting in Michigan. Under the new legislation, sportsbooks have had to seek individual partnerships with brick-and-mortar casinos across the state. This may account for the long wait residents have had to endure before they can place their first legal sports bets in the state. Last month, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waived the 15-day review requirement for approval of the final rules regulating online gaming. It is now up to the platforms themselves to obtain official licensing and launch to bring online sports betting to Michigan. Residents will have to continue to wait for an official launch date from the Michigan Gaming Control Board. According to Executive Director Richard Kalm, the official launch date will depend on how quickly the major platforms can come under the state’s regulatory requirements. “The platform providers’ ability to meet the requirements of the laws and rules will determine which entities can be licensed for launch first,” he said.

Residents of the state can expect a similar sports betting experience to other states in the U.S. that have legalized the practice. Residents will need to be over the age of 21 to place a legal sports bet. Platforms will also utilize geolocation technology and identity verification to ensure that bettors are in compliance with state law. Once the platforms are licensed, they will offer wagers on all professional and college sporting events from soccer to baseball and basketball. The sports betting legislation provides for dedicated revenue from the practice to the state’s School Aid Fund and the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. An 8.4% tax will be placed on winnings from retail sports bets and a range from 20% to 28% on all online sports wagers.

A Potential Revenue Builder

Initial projections show a huge revenue boost for the state which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 health restrictions and related shutdowns. The three commercial casinos in the state are currently closed in accordance with health guidelines. The tribal casinos in Michigan are not required to adhere to those same health guidelines however, two have voluntarily closed down. The three commercial casinos, MGM, MotorCity, and Greektown, were operating under reduced capacity prior to the most recent closures. As of the year end, the revenues for all three were down roughly 54% from the same period last year.

In states where sports gambling is already legal, the data reflects that patrons are utilizing the freedom to place their bets online, in the face of casino closures. In states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania sports gambling has made up 43% and 28% respectively of all gambling revenue. Industry experts expect that Michigan could experience a similar boost once it gets its own sports betting industry up and running.